tv Lectures in History 19th- Century Artist Winslow Homer CSPAN October 6, 2018 8:00pm-9:26pm EDT
frontier. ubin talks about the symbolism found in his work. as well as meditations on nature . his classes about 80 minutes. hello everybody, welcome back to class, good to see you after the long break. we were talking about american john wright, specifically we talked about three different painters. i think to be a bona fide john wright painter, you had to have three names. we will talk about the greatest winslow genre painter, homer. his work began during the civil war. painterhome or a genre is like calling michelangelo a
ceiling painter. he goes well beyond that. born in cambridge massachusetts, where harvard is, right outside of boston. homer and his family had nothing to do with harvard. he was not an educated person. he never went to college, never went to university. man, he apprenticed with a printmaker. that was his livelihood. ,e was going to make prints illustrate for local publications. eventually, he rose to the surface. he rose to the top very quickly. he started illustrating for harper's weekly magazine of the pre-civil war and civil war era. when the civil war broke out in
1861, homer was sent to the front lines as an artist correspondent. he was like a war journalist, his medium was trying -- drawing. he does depiction of union camp life. reporting back to the families of these soldiers what life was like at the front. large, these were nonthreatening images. thisrent wanted to see terrible battle. homer's pictures had a certain levity to them. in the beginning, there is an undertone that people recognize but only now looking back do we see the depth and darkness of these images. images, oneirst that i am impartial to is called
army of the potomac, a sharpshooter on picket duty. weeklypeared in harper's on november 13, 1862. it was a black and white drawing of a union soldier perched in h holding an a tree, rifle. to support the tree the rifle barrel and also to support himself. is hanging from the trunk of the tree, almost as if it is a giant knot in the tree. then you see the fir quality of the tree. what do you see about the man's face? he is very focused.
that becomes a theme throughout homer's work, the mental concentration. that is very good. what else, what can you see about him, is he smiling? can you identify this man? is completely covering the man's face. the brim of his hat is covering it. the shadow of the hat. this is another thing we will see in homer. paintn't really like to faces. it is not because he was not talented. i think he will develop a reason for that. the individual face of a person was not important to him. the body language was. i think homer is the greatest american artist of body language as a revealer of interstate of mind. gun this man, we see the
almost coming out of his face. it is a mechanical extension of the man's body or face. he is gazing and the camera barrel is extending that gaze. homer himself is concentrating, he is one of the great observers of american art. this is an image of a man intensely focusing and observing. however, is it a benign thing he is doing? i am not so sure. if it ist is almost as a comment on a soldier in the time of war, he is no longer a person. that: russell's claim is
this image is showing that the man at war becomes a dehumanized and becomes a part of a war machinery. not so a meaning i am sure that anybody in homer's time recognize. part of what he is doing here is the dehumanization of warfare. whether it is benign or not, much of it depends on perspective. if you are part of the union army or you are a yankee, then yes, he is protecting his comrades by being up in nature tree.in a if you are a confederate soldier, it is not so be nine at all, it is this faceless creature in a tree who is taking life away.
what kind of balance would you say this man has in h ray? a tree? >> i would say he is not very anchored. he is holding on by one hand. exactly, imagine being in sitting and trying to hold this heavy rifle and get a steady, pinpoint fix on your target. this is some human being. it is a balancing act. i would say yes, an image of precariousness. relevance of the precariousness of the man's body
to the larger theme of war? >> i think the most stable object in the entire image is the gun. i agree with russell's opinion because the man is now the weapon. his face does not matter, his identity does not matter. having his body off centered makes sense but having begun very level does. gone to thething is purpose of the gun. the gun is what it is all about. the man and the tree are both subservient to the war machinery. whichs a powerful thought is consistent with homer, throughout his career. he is almost philosophically examined the role of the individual within the larger social forces.
homer started off drawing but was not a painter. amateurer was an watercolor artist. as a painter, he was entirely self-taught. around 1863, he started a series of oil plantings -- paintings based on the drawings he had done well in the camp. he is still in the field doing this, still at war. this is possibly his first painting. i will give you the title of it later. what do you see here? tommy what is happening here? >> i see two union soldiers watching something.
two union soldiers outside their tent sort of hanging out their laundry to dry. there is a fire going on and maybe a little coffee tin that is boiling some coffee. we talk about genre painting, this is a painting of two ordinary soldiers, nothing special, nothing unusual. these are not heroic figures. who we areot men supposed to praise. they are just going about daily life on the camps. there is a band playing in the background. it is probably playing some sort of early morning music. what about the body language of
these two people? >> i think it seems to disconnect them from the whole idea of the union. most of what we have seen has because ofying war the politics of the. period. these aret is great, men who are not driven by ideals to support the country or two and slavery. are doingsoldiers who a soldier's job. it is not a situation of danger. it is a situation of boredom. life when you are not about to fight. book "rediters famous badge of courage" basically diers'anxiety sol
to get into battle. they want something to happen after all these days of waiting around. these men are tent mates, they are roommates. how are they interacting with each other. ? >> they are not facing one another so i think it is boredom, they are just waiting for something to do. david: that is very good. one soldier has turned his back on the other. imagine if you and your roommate interacted like that. it would suggest get out of my space, i need my islands. i don't want to knowledge that you are there. this is a beautiful homer moment, both men are looking down but it is almost as if they are looking at different things. they are not even looking at the world around them. they are probably looking into
their past or future. they are elsewhere. homer shows in a very confined soldiers shoulders -- who are not related but they parallel one another with gestures. boatare in the same mentally but different places mentally. cantitle of the painting -- anybody imagine with the title of the painting is? home sweet home. what is the joke here? what is home sweet home? there is a song about it. it is the place everybody wants to go. >> when you think of home sweet home you think of comfort. when i think of home sweet home i think of a lot more positivity. there is maybe even a
double irony here. this is their home sweet home, tent where they have to sleep on rainy nights and eat lousy food. they are leaving this bad surrogate for home and going instead to the home they left behind. week,tist we study last the one painting we did not get painting end was her which is a beautifully painted image of a mother reading a newspaper account of a union while her children are parading around the parlor room to the seriousness of war. the mother understand the seriousness of war.
her husband would be a yankee soldier somewhere in the front. i put these images together because it is almost as if spencer is showing us the home front and homer, ironically named, is a showing us the war front. because homer was such a punster, i think he was very aware of his last name. i think is maybe about himself and his own longings for home. another image for this time shows you the kind of raw, visual power that homer takes early. of veyry can i ask you to throw out a few descriptive phrases about the painting?
i miss the last part of that. the top really stands out. it seems like he is observing what is going on in the field. what heet me pick up on was saying. divides the composition in half. blue, gray, silver, sky up above and then this one figure standing on the embankment, rising into the sky. somebody tell me what is his body language? >> he looks kind of scared like something is going to happen. like you said last time, everything is dependent on his body language. he looks like he is observing a signal that is coming.
david: that is a really good interpretation. i want you to notice his right hand is balled into a fist. his left arm is counterbalancing behind him. he is a man in a precarious position. he is on the top of this embankment. shoulders, he his is a confederate soldier shouting something to the yankees in the distance. the title of the painting gives it away. this was shot in petersburg, virginia where there was a series of battles. it is also called defiance. it is an image of a rebel soldier deifying the yankees to come get him. way off in the distance you see a little puff of smoke. what is the puff of smoke? >> someone shooting him.
david: he is daring them to come shoot at him. notice the human figures here. there are lots of little black figures that seem like humans but they are trees that have been destroyed by bombardment. this man is in an apocalyptic situation but showing defiance, courage, bravery. the yankee side but he is showing the bravery of the confederate soldier. it is almost as if we can put these images together. the sharpshooter is the man of the tree who is firing at the loan soldier on the other side
.f no man's land already, we see with homer the emphasis on the loneliness of the individual. even if you are sharing a tent in a small space with your comrade, you are still all alone, finally. this is a central theme of winslow homer. we will be tracking that today. what you cannot see in the slide at any time is there are a few men here and one of them is a black man. he has a banjo, can anybody see the figure? it is a complete racist caricature. it shows a figure with a banjo, looking scared, the whites of
he is a are showing, figure of what would have been casual, every day white racism in the north. the north is fighting a war against the south on slavery, but there is plenty of racism going on in the north as well. i want to say that winslow homer, a child of his time, he is imbibing this sort of stereotype of the time. he transcends of the stereotype, he arrives at a different place. in the beginning, he is spitting into that world. the painting that made winslow homer famous. andas exhibited in new york attracted very positive reviews
and crowds came to see it. , prisonerss clear from the front. kind ofyankee general, reminds me of ferris bueller, is receiving the laid down weapons three confederate soldiers while the yankee guards are standing there. is that same sort of torn up battlefield that we saw in defiance. the stumps of the trees. who can tell me about these three soldiers? that is the key to the painting, the three prisoners. each is different from the other. homer is telling us something about them by their composure. anyone want to take a move? >> the first one from right to tot, wearing a cap seems
resemble the defiant character. david: remember this course we talk about the aristocratic pose, the hand on the hip is a sign of control, manliness. middle has hishe hands clasped which would indicate that he is a little more nervous. david: not only that, having your hands clasped was a sign of submission. he is the old man. you have the young, long-haired rebel, literally long-haired, the bearded philosopher slave. what about the third figure in the row? , he hass more useful his hands in his pocket and how
he is standing behind the old man. david: that is a very good interpretation. iis man is almost saying hey am not really here. some of you in class are doing that right now. don't call on me, i am not really here. he has his hands shoved in his pockets. not sticking out and saying take i, it is almost like shucks, am just a country boy. i don't know what is going on. he looks befuddled. as auld have been seen country person. homer reinforces that. notice the horizon line of the hill goes up at a diagonal. he is of the country. he is really not this outstanding sophisticate that the officer in the front is.
i would say that is probably the same model as the man inviting the shot at petersburg. would prisoners from the front be such a noteworthy painting? why did have a lot of effect on people? they were the main people that were fighting the battles. david: it is a cross-section. homer is giving the north a cross-section of the confederacy. the heroic rebels, the old man who are dragged into it, the ass, uneducated white people who did not know what is going on. he has humanize them. he is not showing them as evil people. he is not demonizing them as we have seen so often this class.
people demonizing the enemy. homer is very courtly accepting their surrender in a positive way. northerners love the story of ulysses s. grant, and robert e. lee, the southern general speaking civilly to one another. them a hope for a peaceful reconciliation at the end of the war. that proved not to be the case. i would say prisoners from the front embodies hope that there can be a humane ending to the war. instead, -- i wouldn't say instead but another homer painting from this. period. what does this show? i see a man working on the
field. because the man is a farmer and he is cutting down wheat. in western traditions, what does this usually symbolize? >> usually you associate it with work and farming. it could beally like a reaper. david: everybody has seen images of the grim reaper which symbolizes cutting down people cuttingarmer here is down the wheat, the grim reaper
cuts down people as they live. is that pushing this too far? is homer saying something about mowing down other people? what does this have to do with the war? it shows that in wars past, nothing remained standing. he could be showing that nothing was safe. that is definitely one way of reading this. it is about how the war lays waste to everything in its path. the veteran symbolizes the killing machinery of the war. it interesting that the field is what is coming
because i feel like the word he was amplies that soldier at one point and now you are a veteran. david: that is a very good explanation. the new field is the postwar era. the reconstruction era. what happens when somebody who has spent four years of his life killing other human beings is now released back into civilization? what does he do with it? it was a concern for people in the north and the south. in americage concern after world war i and again after world war ii. was a wonderful movie called the best years of our lives about veterans who return from the front of broad and the emotionallyey hit and economically when they get home, they can't find work for
themselves and are not accepted. after the vietnam war, this was a huge problem. kind of the horizon line has been blocked. we don't have any view of what is to come. , the a wall in front of us viewer as much as it is in front of the soldier. by the way, you cannot really see this in the image, it has almost been rubbed out. you see homer puts the soldier in his -- and his union code on the ground. he is putting his shoulder into the work ahead of him. we don't know how that will profit. see himhe fact that you capture the motions you make when you are scything.
many years ago, i worked on a project in the swiss alps. and it ist motion very dangerous, if you get carried away you might cut off an arm or two. , let's getmost like a more positive thing going on here. he starts painting new england schoolrooms, young women, young boys cording, romancing. these are eyes -- seen as highly sentimental romantic images. for homer, there is more to them than meets the eye. of my favorites is the country school and the st. louis art museum.
it is a smaller painting than what we see on our screen. we see a one-room country schoolhouse. a teacher is standing in the center reading a lesson. there are three, almost for windows visible. one on the far left, to in the center, and the edge of one on the far right. -- the center windows blackboard behind the teacher. of the beast to windows, can you see any difference between them? what we see out of them? , theindow on the left shade is up, there is a hillside, we see into the distance. there is a horizon out there. , theindow on the right shade is down and all you see is
the grassy hillside beyond. what can you tell me about the kids? are on the left and all of the girls on the right. >> separate spheres, internal segregation of boys on the left and girls on the right. we have a few details here. the boys are all barefoot. they come in from the fields to study lessons sitting under the window. right are the girls, dressed up with petticoats and boots. , thisare two little kids little girl looking at the boy next to her who is bawling his eyes out. he is probably crying because he is the only boy wearing shoes. he is stuck on the girls side. he does not like that. he wants to be with the boys.
it is a cute genre painting of the world into the male and female. i would say, the boy side, the window is open and has horizon and possibility. the girls side is closed. what about the teacher? she is female. take? what is your >> she is framed by the chalkboard. she is only projecting her own knowledge. she is in the middle of the two windows, bridging the gap between male and female spheres. the desk is moved toward the girls, preventing her from fully
realizing her potential. >> that is an excellent analysis. in rural new england after the oril war, there are only two three options open for a young woman. she could get married and have , be aen, work in the mill prostitute, or a schoolteacher. there were not many options. being a schoolteacher is a dead end. there is no economic development. she will not go off to harvard after, which would not have accepted woman anyway. there are no further educational opportunities. homer might be suggesting by the blackboard behind her that she is the one who has met her dead end. the window, atth
least there is a place for them to go. she is frozen. another image homer paints, not mower -- powerful, and moreover it expresses the notion. it is called in recess. there the teacher is not young and is having to stay in because she has given a boy detention. he has to read and she is sitting here looking board. boredom is a huge theme for homer. she wants to be outside in the sunlight, but instead, she is restricted in space. you could say winslow homer -- some people think he is a misogynist. he puts females and inferior positions. i think you can make a case that whatever he was like in his personal life, his paintings are
sympathetic to the case of people who are suffering a limitation. whether it is a veteran suffering what we call ptsd or a teacher realizes her horizons have been blacked out. homer was an outsider all of his life. towas particularly sensitive the loneliness of other outsiders. this became one of homer's most famous paintings and is still a very famous painting. , almost tomage sawyer image of american innocence. you have a number of barefoot boys. that is what they were called. that became the term for the young american boy he went out there and raise himself up by his bootstraps. he did not even have bootstraps.
he is barefoot and in touch with nature. feet on the ground. the boys are playing a game outside the schoolhouse that we were just looking at from inside. nestled in a glenn in the countryside, the berkshire mountains, somewhere in northern new england or upstate new york. game.re playing a on the far left or lower left, there are two girls with hoops watching. they have shoes on. they are watching the boys play. what game are the boys playing? >> we call it the line of murder. stop the witch. whip.is called crack the
?hat happens in this game people end up being on the end and fly off the line. people toward the middle stay intact. >> is that a definition of conformism are what the people who stay in the middle stay safe and the off fromrisk falling the communal chain. what happens is, the biggest and strongest boy is leaning back, holding the next biggest boy, who is holding this boy, holding try to do ist they move the line around as fast as possible. end fallsink at the off. is this homer talking about boys will be boys?
america is so great and wonderful. is this a metaphor for anything? >> it could be a metaphor to say , one day they will be against each other. it is a game now but when they grow up, it will not be a game anymore. >> great. is a game nowg it but when they grow up it will get serious and they will play a version of this in the game is a childhood version of a dog responsibility. >> it looks like survival. of the fittest was inidea that was very much the public consciousness at that time. in 1859, darwin used the term natural selection to talk about how species or brands of florida and obama and zoology survive and others go under.
fittest wasthe coined by herbert spencer, a ,iologist a few years later saying that is what human existence is. darwin liked the term and picked it up in 1869. 1872, onen is, in homer paints snapped the whip, is it far-fetched to think he is looking for a way of expressing what you have just seen? or are we just imagining something from a present-day perspective? >> the shape of the hill is curved. -- so itis the natural associates them to nature. >> there are two versions of this painting. this one is in toledo, ohio. the other is in the met in new york. the one in the met does not have
the hillside. this one for the reason you are talking about, because of the convergence of forces. of homer,huge theme forces converge and individuals are powerless to resist the forces. it seems like the strongest boys are on the right and as you move to the left, those of the boys fallen over, the weaker link. the two girls are even further back, even smaller, they are not even part of the competition. >> there is a social hierarchy going on and at the girls are at the bottom. game.re not even in the yes. social darn it -- social darwinism. it was coined at this time to apply darwinian rules, natural
selection to society as a whole. was used to justify delay is fair capitalism. rich people deserve to be on earth. rich people deserve to live in fancy homes and have wealth. becauseple are poor they are not as smart, hard-working, deserving, therefore they are the bottom. are, whetherhome he is accepting natural selection and social darwinism or capitalism or critiquing it, either way, he is identifying that through his the picture of country life. he is touching on important social issues. another of his most famous paintings from this time is called breezy. , a sailboate cod with one, 2, 3 lads and a
bearded mariner. the boat is killing in the wind, picking up the wind, picking up the breeze. there are sales and the death -- distance. away,r boat, not too far siegel in the sky. of the boys, one of them has shoes. these two are barefoot. barefoot boys. is 1876?t recognitional, the that america has been through a. od of youth and adolescence and it is reaching maturity. could you see any way in which this painting his homers commentary on america in the future? sarah? >> they are traveling in control of the ship.
you can see the waves in the back. background, it reminds me of the ships that people came to our country on, our origins and now we are going forward. >> this is the origins of the country and this is where we are today moving forward. i think both of those interpretations work. , it i am interested in is is a sweet picture of a dad and his kids, and a dalton children. it is also about learning, progress, the future. the biggest, most consistent seen for homer is isolation of the individual. the second most important is the transmission of knowledge. generateeneration can -- educate the next. >> the precarious position of the boat, you cannot tell
whether they are above the wind or about to flip over. the boat is precarious. will see other boats more precarious. i want to note it is in a harbor. happen,hing should these people are not far from rescue. that is important to note. this image introduced jack kennedy to the general national public when he was engaged to jaclyn bouvier. this was their courtship. senator kennedy goes according. the photographer from life went out with them off of hyannisport
, where the kennedys lived, and, this is somebody who is going to be running for political office. he is shown as what? to use a term i have been using. >> a barefoot boy. >> why would you want to show a sophisticated john f. kennedy in this situation as a barefoot boy/ >> and make some relatable to american people. less elite. >> it takes him away from the elite persona that will not get him elected and makes them an american boy. a tom sawyer. the association of barefoot being pure, authentic, connected to the earth. notion of honesty, boyish nest. that is what kennedy was famous boyish nest.
people loved that. people adore that about him. , the photographer -- he was known as a sports photographer -- whether he knew this painting by homer or not, he is referencing the same world. painting of an older guy, it is hard to see his face because the rim of his hat is a backlit. the brim of the hat is covering his face. he is pointing to a young woodsman wearing a bright red shirt carrying and ask standing on a mountain slope. trees.racking down what would thomas: say about this? displeased atbeen the idea of a traipsing into the
wilderness to chop it down. this seems to be an image of naturalization of america. where does homer stand on this? is he a plotting this? coal would have opposed this. where is homer standing? say, homer was at his greatest as a neutral observer who tries to look at contemporary american life and visualize it in a way that resonates meaning. what he has -- 1876 is a watershed year. woodsman and the new woodsman side-by-side. the old is transmitting
knowledge to the young woodsman. this is where to go next. again, an image of transmission. it is also an image of man and nature in a way that begins to suggest a domination of nature. after the civil war, around the homer makes a couple trips down to virginia, the oak confederacy. he spends time with former slaves and gets to know them. some of theirw former masters and mistresses. this is one of the masterpieces he paints, the cotton pickers, -- she has aomen very heavy bag full of cotton. this woman has a basket full of cotton.
it is pretty. a pretty scene that is delicately painted. green, white,, yellow. what a motion do you read from the two figures? -- a motion do you read? one of them is looking down and the other is looking off into the distance. >> staring off into the distance. >> they do not look happy. they look neutral. this is part of the richest literature of the post-civil war. , saying the dark people loved being slaves. that was the sweet home to them. despairingowing them and desponding. this is what freedom brought us. we are still working ungodly hours for meager pay.
we do not own anything. the cosan field, as pretty as it is, is endless. it goes on and on. this woman isd, bored, dejected, resentful. fearful, woman is looking in the different -- distance for a better world like a schoolteacher in a country school. in their get detail face, but they're their bodies in positioning, we get a sense of who they are. the thing on their head, they are surrounded by blackness. like the chalkboard. they are enclosed. to theirre locked in farm woman equipment. >> the face of the girl with the
bag, it is almost like stoic bear the is going to burden gracefully and not openly display how despondent im. >> she is stoic. the look of an doran's. excellent. if you remember the shot at petersburg with the black man as a cliche stereo typical black onstrel with a silly look his face, homer has become more sensitized by spending time with the oppressed. being sympathetic toward them. after his time in virginia, he goes to new york. he is not happy there. it is too big city. he does not like -- he goes to
paris to study art and hates it. he comes back after a few months. he is a real loner. sea on the the north northeast coast of england to a village. he lives there for almost two years. he does amazing watercolors. he is one of the two or three greatest american watercolors, world-class watercolor painter. notice the way he gets the water pulling up on the sand as these four women walk with a baby on her back. they are pretty woman, a sentimentality that homer gets red of. the fishermen community is there.
this sky -- he uses muddy colors . there is a sense of rain just happened or is about to happen again. he manipulates, takes an eraser to erase the surface of the watercolor paper to make it more porous and the gravity of the ink. masterpieceibly his called inside the bar. it shows a fisher woman carrying a basket. her apron is swirling behind her. she is wearing clogs and standing over a title paul. the men are in a fishing dory. there is a boat here. the water is black and ominous than -- possibly, there are showers coming down. the woman is strong, physically strong, unlike b fisher wives who seem delicate, fragile.
this woman is it used to wrestling with elements. that is increasingly the way homer depicts women. what more can you tell me about her? sarah, make some comments about her physical command of the space. figure.s a powerful her arms looked strong and toned her get her stamps. she seems firmly planted in her position. unlike the earlier men in precarious positions, homer has her in a precarious position but she is taking control of the space. she commands the space. she is unafraid. i love the way her swooping apron -- the outline of her by the saleked up
and the background and the shape of the dory to the right or get she is perfectly integrated with job, she is with the men and earning a limp -- living. where she isned, looking, that the dana. >> rosie the riveter. this is straight out of rosie the riveter, a 1940's. same concept. excellent. years inouple of england, he moves to maine. his family owns a small property in southern maine. homer moved into the family house on prout's neck and lives the rest of his life there. he is ever close. we have almost no record of him entertaining friends.
stories go that he became so people wouldity come from boston and new york to knock on his door and he would pretend he was not home. contact with of the mainers of prout's neck and that part of town, scarborough maine. here is his gorgeous painting of prout's neck is located. you can go there today to his studio. it has been restored by the portland art museum. you can go to the studio and go out on these rocks of a woman carrying a lobster trap and another woman carrying the netting. , after thews woman first pretty farm girls, he
shows woman as working-class people who are connected to the world and are a no-nonsense people. also -- look at the yellows at the top of the composition, the scarlet. a little bit of the sun. this is a sunset and of the cloud bank is mostly covering over the sun. there is a ship on the horizon. there is the earth. the shoreline. scarborough, maine. very powerful imagery. is one of the most beautiful, sounding pictures. this is owned by the louvre. one of the only american paintings in the louvre collection. i have seen people, french
people, who have no idea who winslow homer was but they stopped in front of the painting. all it is showing is too young woman dancing on a wooden popcorn at night -- platform at night will other people watch waves coming in. it is called when you come out tonight, a popular folk song that they are dancing to. , who is not somebody who spent a lot of time looking at famous art, is nonetheless intentionally or unintentionally referencing a romantic german painting, moonlight over the sea from 1822, also showing people sitting on rocks looking out to the sea in moonlight. here is the detail. we --e how astonishing
astonishing way brilliant homer was as a craftsman. the way he can use -- capture the moonlight on the ocean by flex of white that he disperses throughout the image. the silhouette of the watchers. the embrace of the woman. two women becoming unified as one. detail ofrther rapture, bliss on her face as she is embracing another woman. there are possible sexual connotations that i would not deny or dispute. you do not have to go that direction. a primaltion is embrace and dance on the shore, the edge of the sea at the edge of land at night. ritualistic, powerful connotations.
time he issame painting woman dancing on the sea, he goes out with fishermen into the grand banks. it was a dangerous thing to do. typically, every year, new england would lose hundreds of men. here is an image of the two men gathering herring and annette -- in a net. beautiful, haunting image. there are the ghostly sales of the ships in the distance. the men are wearing hats. haley was talking to me about the hats covering the woman picking cotton. similarly, these men, their faces are obscured. the body position shows them
hard at work. this man is gathering fish. he has is that over the side of the boat to balance them. peoples showing to relating, but not really relating. ofy are in the same world or the same world collaborating to make something happen. yet, each is his own. another image from this. is called fog warning. this is in the boston museum of fine arts, one of homer's most famous works. mariner is his raingear, his hat. he has his hands on the oars of the ship, boat. carcasses of two large halibut are in the bow of the boat and he is looking off at the boat in the distance.
it is called fog warning to make it clear what is happening is a bank of fog is coming in. what would happen on the grand banks is, the men would have to go out, leave the mothership to get far enough away to catch and each crew would go off in different directions. in, someone on the mothership would ring the bell madly because the bell could be heard a great distance. you had to get in and only had asked amount of time. once the fog came, it could last for days. that is when people got lost at sea. that is what this is an image of. you see the trough of the waves, . cloud bank coming in
presumably, he has heard the bell. he has his oars up at a moment when he is about to put them down again. trips of water on the oars. what can you tell me about his does he look like he is in control, as a frantic, .s a desperate he looks alarmed or aware of the situation. i think o'reilly talked about his concentration. this is a man who is utterly .oncentrated the concentration is not only in and the tiltuage of his head listening to the bell, but he is gauging how far he has to go to get to the ship before it is lost. it is a race against time but he is not panicked. he has tight control on the oars
shows he has the professional skill and wherewithal to get there. maybe this is homer being sentimental or optimistic. it is not a dark and despairing picture because he will get there in the end. another from this time is called the lifeline about a new device being introduced to rescue people when ships were crashing off the shore. somebody from shore would fire a gun that would shoot an arrow ship,- attach it to the and there a series of pulleys, attach a rope or cable. ontowould take a person wouldire and the rescuer take the person. it is one person at a time, very
labor-intensive. we have a man rescuing a woman. here is the detail of it. -- main you tell mame about the woman, man, situation? >> the woman seems desperate. her eyes are closed. >> she is out of it. >> she looks unconscious. is clearly a lot stronger. you can assume she would've been dead. it is a must as if there is a gender-- primal difference. men, the strong individual he was necessary to rescue woman. he is her lifeline, her connection to survival.
you could interpret this as a patriarchal man is necessary to further the race. >> it is interesting that you cannot see his face at all. is, it looksskirt like fake blood in a movie. >> like a gushing of fake blood. , you see herout bare legs. she is wearing shoes in black stockings. she is showing a little bit of her leg, which would have been shocking. it is understandable in the image because she is being rescued. you do not expect to be perfectly closed and put together when you are being rescued. the man is an anonymous figure whose face is covered over.
case were there is literally no face for the man. he is a male force, presence. professor in graduate school wrote a famous article about this and talks about it in terms of homer's sexual repression. homer never married. know if he was heterosexual or homosexual or nonsexual. was a reclusive person. there are a lot of theories about him in that regard. is this something to do -- one theory could be that homer's own repressed sexuality is here in a fantasy of upholding a woman, having your arms around a woman, but not being able to countenance or admit your face.
preposterous to sexualize this image? we have done enough of that in this class that you will not be surprised by it. julia, what do you think? that are a lot of things make me think it has sexual undertones. ofincluding the ejaculates its beret. -- >> she has been ravaged. >> she has curves. her skin is out. is coming from her torso . symbolizing fertility the posture of the man behind her is a sexual position. there is a famous movie from
1953 called from here to eternity. there is a famous scene from it that is often parodied of a couple lying on a beach making out and the sea comes in and covers them over and everybody in 1953 understood that as a sexual metaphor. possibly, there is a sexual metaphor here. more importantly, this is the ,heme i am getting to, is that homer increasingly becomes about the primal elements of nature, -- wavesks crashing crashing against nature, life being formed -- he is darwinian. he looks at nature and procreation as part of the same
package. sexual pleasure is primitive, in the dna. that is what these paintings get to. here is another one showing to lifeguards rescuing to drowning woman officer. it is called undertow. look at this. the man is a most impossibly muscular. this man is like the cover of a romance novel, his shirt has been ripped away. -- there isrs debate whether they are to females or one female and one male. gender, and homer, becomes ambiguous as his career goes on in terms of painting detail. artist see what a master is, what he can convey.
imagine he is a great colorist and he goes on a series of holidays. he goes to the adirondack mountains and often works with say,der man who, i would is the same model he used in this one. the man with the beard. except now, where is he going? he is pointing off to the infinite horizons. great america that is out there. 1893, where are the horizons? is it about america coming to a dead-end or is it about homer himself, feeling his age and mortality, his coming to a dead-end? -- it is an image of a integrated into
decaying nature. he shows a painting of a young who has roped a stag bloodhound is in the water. homer uses white and washes of color to convey the attention of the moments. at the same time, he paints huntsman and the dogs. the dogs are yapping. the deer has been scanned. the boy has a rifle. it is a similar figure to the country boy we saw back. instead of being under the horizon, the boy is going over the horizon. image --ay this is an we talked about environmental -- homers attitude to the land.
this is one of his most socially critical paintings. about the rape of the land. lands.ing and dominating this is no barefoot boy. this is a boy with boots on stomping on tree trunks as a treat us around, the trunk as the dogs run around. it is a hellish image. powerful image of america at the end of the century. paintingsingly paints of the battle between the elements, between the sky, the surf, the eternal rocks. many people at the turn-of-the-century are thinking millennial thoughts, what will happen after 1900? fantasy endings i-80 that homer's paintings,
especially the ones with no human beings in them, become. man will vanish. thinking back to thomas cole. he does not even give us that. he does not say civilization will return eventually. it is desolation ahead. is that such a bad thing? they key shunning in the bahamas, does brilliant of men fishing for sponges or gathering turtles out of the water. we could spend so much time analyzing just the technique. the washes of blue here and here and down here. the green. the blinding white. he is able to capture a sense of the glare -- you almost need sunglasses to look at this painting the way he uses rock paper -- raw paper. then he paints one of his last
masterpieces. it is called the gulf stream. a single bohemian sailor wearing long pants, no shirt, the sun is gleaming off of his sweat. he is on a boat. the boat has been de-masted probably in hurricane. there is a tie for and coming his way. there is a ship going in the opposite direction, nobody is paying attention to him or rescuing him. think about breezing up, we talked about the bow could keel over it but there are people in the harbor. this man has no help. there are sharks, there's blood in the water. sharks are swirling around. it is a bad situation to be in. of course, it will remind you of another painting we talked about . known the shark
because it was in boston. we can talk about this, the fact that the man is black. homer very well may be using this as an allegory to talk about the plight of the black individual at the turn-of-the-century. jim crow politics have taken rise,lynchings are on the the supreme court in the case of plessy v ferguson said black people do not have to have the same equal rights as white people, they can live in substandard housing and go to some quality schools. they do not have the right to travel in the same first-class carriages on a train. it was a retrenchment from the civil war, a rolling back of any privilege is or
black people aren't for themselves. this seems to be a terribly sad image of lack helplessness. we talk about aloneness. this is not only aloneness of the individual, but the loneliness and isolation of an entire race. shark eating conditions of america at this time. it isot want to say purely about race. we can still interpret it broadly about mankind at the end of the 19th century. crane wrote a short "about four8 called men who are stranded -- shipwrecked and they are on a boat for days and days and the open waters and they despair that they will ever be rescued.
au see three men, possibly fourth, and a boat and a deep trough of water with the sun on the horizon, black clouds coming in. we talked about being stoic. these men are maybe at the end of the world, of their lives. they are possibly stephen crane figures. they show a stoic face. one of the last paintings homer flyingd shows to docs over a trough of water and in the distance, you see a man standing up in a boat shooting them with a buckshot. died and isjust tanking into the water. the other duck is alarmed. possibly, this is his partner. it is a sense of death, destruction, the end. the puff of fire we saw the
beginning. homer keeps returning to those themes. it is almost as if these men in the chops of the water are the ones who were firing the shot at the docs from here. last painting. fox hunt. 1893. shows a winter day with a fox nourishment -- seeking nourishment while crows are flying overhead, waiting for him to die. they are predators. he is a predator. they are superior predators because he is trapped in the snow with nowhere to go but the end of the earth. sea and thed green icy sky beyond. him.rows are hovering over there are a few berries but not enough to sustain him. around the same time, vincent thing goes last painting dealing with crows had a similar theme
about the end of existence, whether it is one's own personal existence or humankind. these are things that troubled homer. it was part of his makeup, his dark and complex never understood makeup. from the beginning of his career to the end, he has been consistent in his attempt to make art that captures the imagination come a captures the eye and says something, something often dark about humanity and of the larger condition of universal existence. that is a for today. thank you for being here. keep working on your bibliography is and who will move on next time. -- we will move on to aikens next time. [applause] >> join us saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. and midnight as we join students and college classrooms to hear lectures on topics.--
lectures and history are also available on podcast. visit our website or download them from itunes. presidency, on the a historian looks at how the fashion choices of nixon and betty ford reflected politics and culture of the time. here's a preview. perhaps, the most iconic piece of clothing was the welloat she wore to china accompanying the president on his historic 1972 visit. this took place the very same year that american households had more color tv is then black and white, 1972.
it also came at a time when of the technology of film was giving way to video. there was a more immediate ability to transmit footage, live footage. it was not just americans, people all over the world who the footage and a video coming back each day from china with pat nixon and her red coat. onlyave to remember, not was it an eye-popping color, but at the time, all chinese citizens, male and female, were expected to dress uniformly in drab green or dark blue.
with all of the men who were traveling with her husband's official entourage being in lack or dark navy or other dark colors, pat nixon was the bright spot of the several day visit to china. watch more on the fashion of pat nixon and betty ford this sunday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern on the presidency only on american history tv. this weekend, american history tv is joining our spectrum cable partners to showcase the history of hawaii. to learn more about the cities on our tour, visit c-span.org/cities tour. . we continue now with our look at the history of hawaii. >>